Minister Sets Sights on Lower Transport Costs

Newly appointed Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said on Monday that the government might soon announce the results of its latest efforts to lower costs in the country’s transport sector, alluding to corruption as a potential contributor to current prices.

High transportation costs are regularly cited among the main hurdles to doing business in Cambodia, along with the country’s endemic graft. Mr. Chanthol, who was handed the reins of the Transport Ministry in a recent cabinet shakeup, hinted at relief after a closed-door meeting with transport companies at his office Monday morning.

Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, right, speaks with Secretary of State Touch Chankosal during a meeting with private transport companies in Phnom Penh yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Transport Minister Sun Chanthol, right, speaks with Secretary of State Touch Chankosal during a meeting with private transport companies in Phnom Penh yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

He told reporters that the companies were asked to break down their current expenses for the ministry by Thursday and said Prime Minister Hun Sen might soon make an announcement related to government efforts to persuade private players in the sector to lower their prices.

Mr. Chanthol also said that many firms had complained of “unofficial expenses.”

“The private sector said it had some unofficial expenses, which cause prices to increase, so we asked them to make detailed reports about what they spend money on. Then together we can solve the problem,” he said. “If we don’t solve it, the same problem will continue to occur. We asked them to reduce their costs, but they said they could not because they spend unofficially.”

Mr. Chanthol said the government might issue a pricing “formula” for transport providers, but did not elaborate.

Chhem Chomnan, president of the Cambodia Bus Association, who attended the meeting, said the government could not order private carriers to lower their prices but could try to persuade them.

“I’m not sure yet if we will decrease our prices because we will meet tomorrow to talk about the problem,” he said.

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